I confess to not knowing Josh Moore other than the fact that he is a 26-year-old man who plays games on XBox Live- a creation of Microsoft. In 2010, Mr. Moore, when filling out his XBox Live profile, noted his hometown of Fort Gay, West Virginia. Then the trouble started. It would appear that Microsoft has declared the word “gay” a pejorative phrase used against gays…er, homosexuals… even though homosexuals often refer to themselves as “gay.” But that is not even the point. Fort Gay is a real town in West Virginia with a real mayor and real zip code, post office and a population of about 750 people.
In fact, the mayor- David Thompson- contacted Microsoft to inform them that the town really did exist and that Mr. Moore meant no offense to the gay community of the online gaming world. Microsoft basically responded that they cared less. “Gay” was pejorative and that was that whether it appeared in the name of a town, or was someone’s surname or whatever. After some notoriety- mainly in gamer magazines- Microsoft finally relented and restored Fort Gay to its proper place among actual communities with the name “Gay” in the title.
The whole episode would appear humorous but for the fact it illustrates the insidious nature of political correctness run amok. The algorithms used to flag Mr. Moore’s account and profile are basically the same algorithms used to flag “fake news sites” or other words the PC police deem “pejorative” or “offensive.” It is like the IRS selecting groups for scrutiny because they have the word “tea” in their name.
Examples like these abound throughout America ranging from the humorously silly to the downright scary and dangerous. Some of the sillier examples are: (1) the word “manhole” is being replaced throughout America with the less sexist “utility hole;” (2) the word “homosexual” is being replaced with the more Orwellian-sounding phrase “same gender loving;” (3) “healthy” people are no longer healthy in some lexicons- they are “non-disabled individuals;” and (4) on some campuses, the use of the word “lame” to describe anything is a slur against amputees the world over.
If the silliness remained so, then it would make the pages of some humor magazine, but the political correctness police have entered into dangerous territory. On the less dangerous end of the spectrum we have the case of the New York teacher who offended students by correcting punctuation, spelling and grammatical errors on a 2-page book report by students. Said the PC Police: the corrections were incorrect because they were “perceived grammatical choices that in actuality reflect ideologies.” That’s a load of crappy words to excuse bad grammar. At another institute of higher learning, feminists are protesting against the high water mark of feminism- “The Vagina Monologues-” because “it isn’t inclusive of transgender students and would be offensive to students who identify as women but do not have a vagina.” Incidentally, the super feminist students won; the play was cancelled during their annual feminism-awareness week celebrations.
On the more insidious side of the ledger is the new US Army field manual which instructs soldiers to avoid “any criticism of pedophilia” and to avoid “criticizing anything related to Islam.” That could be a problem if the Army is ever called on to combat someone who happens to be “related to Islam.” Obama ordered the government to ban any references to the link between terrorism and Islam and the FBI has rewritten their training manuals removing any such references.
Even noting that in a predominantly black liberal city like Detroit where 75% of children are born out of wedlock is considered racist. That great gatekeeper of PC culture- Chris Matthews- has even suggested that use of the word “Chicago” is racist. Football has become “too violent” with the Boston Globe calling for a ban on football for anyone under the age of 14. At Hampshire College, a band that incorporates African beats into their music has been banned. Their crime? They are white and incorporating African beats into your music is “cultural appropriation.”
In Holland, the prestigious art museum- the Rijksmuseum- has embarked on something truly Orwellian called the “Adjustment of Colonial Terminology Project” where titled works of art are being renamed lest the name given them by the artist offends a foreign visitor. Germany has decided to ban pork products in schools lest a Muslim be offended. A Danish politician was arrested and tried on charges for asserting that Muslim immigrants are religiously intolerant and bring antisemitic views into the country.
And the PC police have come full circle as they now blame critics of political correctness of policing speech. The Left has George Orwell spinning in his grave. The insidious effects of PC culture is seen on campuses throughout America where ridiculousness is exceeded only by stupidity.
Recently, 51% of respondents in a survey of college students said they do not believe “trigger warnings” should be included on a college course syllabus with another 17% saying they were unsure. But, what they desire and what is reality are two things totally different. In that same survey, 69% of respondents admitted they have not expressed an opinion in class because of fear of repercussions. Among students who described themselves as religious, 73% have held back from expressing an opinion. Republican students were also less likely to express an opinion in class.
From the ridiculous to the dangerous, from the college classroom to the government business office, the PC police are on the prowl. If there is a hint that something may offend someone, they are quick to swoop in with their arsenal of shame. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but so too is being offended in the realm of the beholder. Words are words and respond to them as you might, but blaming someone else for your emotional state is immature and common in kindergarten-age children, not grown adults. I am not referring to racial epithets which all agree should be verboten. But when the phrase “brown bag” in reference to a lunch brought from home (probably in a brown bag) is considered offensive (it is in Seattle government offices along with the word “citizen” lest we offend someone who is not a citizen), then this country has gone off the deep end. Your innocuous utterance today may be grounds for your termination or reprimand tomorrow. In a very real sense, we are all Josh Moore.